Title: Charade
Author: Steph
Rating: PG
Pairing: Robin/Patrick
Category:Drama/Romance
Disclaimer: I do this out of a love for this couple. No infringement is intended.
Spoilers: Just stuff that's happened already.
Summary: Robin and Patrick finally speak following their break-up, during which Robin confronts Patrick about the man he pretends to be.

Note: This just grew from something that started to roll around my head after Patrick took care of Jason and I thought of an interesting scene that I wanted to see between Robin and Patrick. It kind of grew from there. It basically addresses things I'd like to see them discuss on the show, but know they won't. It does not resolve anything, but I really had a specific focus and a realization that I wanted Robin to come to, so that's what this does. I believe that Patrick needs to be the one to realize/acknowledge/accept his feelings for Robin and fight for her. But I also want Robin to be the bigger person and not be like him, acting as if being with him isn't something she really wants. And I want her to make that clear to him. Okay, I've rambled long enough and I'm pretty sure I didn't make any sense! Hope you enjoy it and please let me know what you thought.
-Steph

--- Charade: Part 1/1 ---

Robin strolled along the docks, lost in thought. She pulled her light sweater more tightly around her and glanced up at the clear night sky. There wasn't a star in sight. She smiled bitterly at how it perfectly mirrored how she felt.

Empty.

She was better off without him, right? That's what she had told her mother. Her mother hadn't bought it and she hadn't been able to persuade herself either, no matter how hard she tried.

Her mother had said her eyes were warmer and she smiled more easily. That's the kind of effect Patrick had on her. She knew she'd had a positive effect on him, too, just as he'd had on her. His father had pointed out that he seemed happier lately.

So how had it come to be that two people who clearly made each other happy, who were clearly happier together than apart, were left alone and empty? How had it come to be that her warm eyes were now cold and vacant, her smile now plastic and forced?

It had only been a day and Robin could already feel herself longing for the little things she had taken for granted.

The way he would pull her into private areas of the hospital and kiss her senseless. The way he would look at her across the nurse's station when he thought she didn't notice. The way he would come up to her and whisper something in her ear. The way he would smile at her - a smile she was sure he saved for her alone.

She knew those things were in the past now. They hadn't even exchanged a word since and she wasn't sure how things would be between them now. They still had to work together, but gone would be the playful bantering and bickering. The flirting and teasing would vanish. And any semblance of a friendship they had managed to form would disappear, too. Those rare moments when he would confide in her or she would confide in him were a thing of the past.

And what did that leave them with? A civil and cordial work relationship. At least, she hoped they'd be able to keep it civil and cordial.

Robin was so lost in her thoughts that she almost didn't see him. She stopped in her tracks, as she caught sight of his figure in the corner of her eye. He was standing at the edge of the docks, hands in his pockets, looking out at the water.

She bit at her bottom lip, as she debated whether or not to go over to him. She just couldn't accept the fact that their relationship was going to be reduced to cold, impersonal work conversation.

She was still debating when he suddenly turned around, his eyes landing on her. He must have sensed her presence because he certainly didn't seem to hear her coming, apparently lost in thoughts of his own.

His eyes scanned her face and he opened his mouth as if to say something, then snapped it shut. It was then that Robin realized she had something to start a conversation and the silent debate within herself was settled. It seemed, no matter how hard she tried, she just couldn't walk away from him.

She slowly walked over to stand beside him and looked up, meeting his eyes.

"I heard about what you did for Jason."

Patrick's jaw tightened at the mention of his name. He shrugged his shoulders and looked out at the water again.

"I was just doing my job."

Robin nodded. "Well, I know how you feel about his job and I'm sure it wasn't easy treating him when you knew that his lifestyle led to his injuries."

He shook his head, replying flatly. "It's not my job to judge."

Robin's eyes washed over his face. "No, it's not, but you are human."

"Jason was injured trying to save Sam. He wasn't on the job."

"He's always on the job. It's his life. Sam wouldn't have been a target if not for that life."

Patrick slowly licked his lips and turned to meet her gaze, his voice softening. "When I looked at Jason yesterday, all I saw was a man who would do anything to protect the woman he loves. I can respect that."

There was something in his tone, something in his eyes, that made goosebumps appear on her skin. Patrick lowered his eyes to the ground.

The truth was, he did respect Jason. He nearly lost his life trying to save Sam and he'd broken his own heart by pushing her away to protect her.

Patrick understood that. Deep down, he knew he loved Robin and that's what scared him so much. Love always ended in pain. He knew that and so did Robin. He would never be able to be the man she deserved or needed. He would have only ended up hurting her and himself in the process if he had let what was happening between them continue...let it grow into something deeper. It was easier to end it now. It would hurt far less now.

And maybe he was right. But that hurt, that ache in his heart, that emptiness in the pit of his stomach, was still greater than he ever imagined it could be. And when he looked into her eyes, he saw the pain she was unable to conceal.

He may have protected her and himself from the kind of pain that can make you lose yourself, like his father had, but he'd still caused that look in her eye. He'd caused that ache in his heart and that emptiness in the pit of his stomach.

Robin swallowed hard, as the silence began to consume them. She managed a faint smile. "Well, I just wanted to say I'm grateful for what you did for Jason. I guess I'll see you at work. Have a good night."

She turned to leave, but only made it a few steps before his voice stopped her.

"Is that what you saw in him?" he asked softly.

Robin slowly turned around and found that he was still facing the water. She walked back to the spot she had been standing a few moments earlier. She looked up at him, her brow furrowing in confusion.

"What are you talking about?"

He looked down at her. "Jason nearly died on that table. All medical reason, says he should have died. But he's stronger than anyone I've ever seen. He's brave and he doesn't give up, whether it's fighting for his life or to save the woman he loves. I'm guessing that must be appealing to women...must have been appealing to you. Is that what you saw in him? Was that it?"

Robin stared at him for a long moment. She wasn't sure what he was getting at. She knew Patrick never understood what she saw in Jason, but she didn't realize it was something he still thought about. She wasn't sure why he really cared to understand. Why did it matter to him?

She tilted her head. "I don't know. Jason and I came together at a time when we both needed someone. He was still reeling from the brain-damage and I was still trying to learn how to live life with HIV. He needed to be accepted for the man he had become and I guess I needed to be accepted for the woman I had become."

He nodded, as his eyes moved to the ground. He swallowed around the lump in his throat and spoke so quietly she almost didn't hear him. "And I guess he was able to meet the expectations you had for him."

Robin's eyes widened, as realization dawned on her. He was trying to understand how Jason had been enough for her, when she had made it clear he couldn't be. She wished she could take back what she had said about how he lived down to her expectations of him. She knew how much it had hurt him, even though he would never admit it.

And it wasn't even the truth. She said a lot of things after Patrick ended their so-called relationship. She tried to make herself believe that he really was the shallow dog she had pegged him to be from the moment she met him. She tried to convince herself that there was nothing more to him than the arrogant playboy. But it was of no use. She couldn't convince herself of something she knew wasn't true.

The truth was, she had believed in him so much more than she ever expected, so much more than she ever wanted to. Without even realizing it, she had set her expectations of him high. She had also set herself up for disappointment, just like he said she was prone to do. Even so, that didn't stop her from believing he was more than he claimed to be. He was scared to even try to be more. Robin knew he feared trying to be the man she knew he could be because of the possibility of disappointing her...of not meeting her expectations. And she had thrown that fear right in his face. She realized now it was easier for him to just let her believe he wasn't capable of being more.

And now she understood what was bothering him. From Patrick's perspective, she had been with a brain-damaged mobster and yet she acted as if he wasn't good enough. She acted as if he needed to change. This only served to give credence to his own feelings of inadequacy.

Robin chewed on the inside of her mouth and then finally shook her head. "This isn't about Jason at all. This is about you. This is about us."

His head snapped up and he met her eyes. "There is no us."

Robin pursed her lips and nodded. "Fine, then this is about you."

He shook his head and dragged a hand across his mouth. "You know what? Forget it. I'm sorry I said anything."

But Robin stood her ground. "You don't understand how I could be with someone like Jason, but then be so disappointed in the man you are."

His eyes flashed for a moment, surprised that she had read him so well.

He let out a breath. "Your words, not mine."

Robin lowered her eyes to the ground. "You know, you and Jason aren't as different as you'd like to believe."

Patrick laughed and shook his head. "This I have to hear."

Robin's expression remained serious. "You aren't. You both put up walls. Jason doesn't love easily. It's difficult for him to say how he feels or confide in people."

Patrick's eyes grew dark. "So, I guess you're drawn to men who are emotionally shutdown."

She smiled in spite of herself. "I guess I am." She paused, as the smile faded. "But here's the difference between you and Jason. It's not easy for him to open up and love, but he has."

His jaw clenched at the statement. "And you believe I'm not capable of doing the same."

She shook her head. "No, that's what you believe."

An acidic smile appeared on his lips and he put his hands on his hips. "You're right, I do. I'm completely self-absorbed. I have time for my career and the after hours activities that help me blow off steam. I don't have anything to give anyone else. I don't want to talk about my feelings and try to figure out why I am the way that I am. This is me. This is who I am and I don't pretend to be anyone else."

Robin scoffed at that and crossed her arms over her chest. "You honestly believe that?"

His eyes narrowed at her. "Yes."

She shook her head sharply. "All you do is pretend, Patrick. You say you've been nothing but honest with me, but that's a lie and we both know it. You haven't been honest about how you really feel about me. I don't even think you've been honest with yourself. Your entire existence is a charade. You want me to believe this is the real you, but I don't. I don't believe there's nothing more to you, I don't believe you have nothing more to give. And you know why? Because I've seen more."

He rolled his eyes, his tone biting. "Yes, I know, you've seen glimpses of the man I can be. You've scratched beneath my shallow surface. I've heard it all before. We've done this little dance time and time again, Robin." He paused and waved his hand, "I think this is the part when you realize how wrong you actually are, chide yourself for believing differently, tell me I really am nothing more than a superficial, smug pig, and then walk away in a huff."

He stared into her eyes, as if challenging her. But she stood rooted to her spot, her gaze unflinching.

She finally replied softly, "I'm not going anywhere." She then took a deep breath. "I'm not going to flip-flop this time because I know that's what you want. You want me to reinforce what you are trying so desperately to believe about yourself. Well, I won't do it. Not again. I can't convince myself there's nothing more to you. Trust me, I've tried. You have no idea how hard I've tried. It would make this all so much easier if I could just let myself believe it. But I can't." Robin paused and took another deep breath, her voice softening. "When I said you lived down to my low expectations of you, I was lying. I let myself believe in the man you can be, the man you are deep inside. The man you let me see in those rare moments I treasure. I let myself start to fa-..."

Her voice trailed off and her face reddened at what she nearly let slip. She could feel his eyes on her, so intense she wondered if they'd burn holes into her skin.

He brought his thumb and forefinger to her chin and lifted her head to meet his gaze.

"You let yourself what?" he asked.

Robin looked into his eyes and found the words emerging without her permission. "I let myself start to fall in love with that man."

Patrick's hand fell from her chin and his mouth dropped open. He took a step back, her words shocking him to his core. He could have guessed her feelings were that deep, but hearing her say the words made everything that had happened that much more real...and that much harder. His eyes immediately moved to the ground, as he licked at his lips nervously.

When he finally spoke, his voice was small and unsteady. "Well, I guess you learned your lesson then. You can't fall in love with someone who doesn't exist...with an illusion."

Robin squeezed her eyes shut and took a deep breath, as she mentally berated herself for letting those words slip out. And they weren't even completely true. She hadn't started. She had already fallen. She had fallen hard and long ago.

She opened her eyes and tried to steady her breathing. They words were out there now and there was no taking them back. She might as well face them.

"I don't believe he's an illusion."

Patrick could feel the anger begin to build up in him. Why was she making this so hard? Why couldn't she just accept that he would never be the man she needed him to be? How hard did he have to push until he pushed her over the edge?

He sighed and shook his head. "Well, don't say I didn't warn you. I can put on a great show when I want to. I can say the right things if I want something badly enough. Those glimpses were nothing more than an act. A woman like you doesn't just fall into bed with a guy like me. It took me a while, but I eventually figured that out. I knew I had to show a warm, sensitive side every so often if I wanted a shot, so I did. You're the one who said my entire existence is a charade. That shouldn't be too hard for you to believe."

Patrick saw the hurt flash across her eyes, as he trashed every honest, tender moment they'd ever shared. The look in her eyes was too much for him to bear. He had to look away.

Robin watched him subtly move his eyes to a spot just below her ear and realized he was simply telling more lies. This was just another part of his charade.

Those glimpses were real. Those moments were genuine.

"You're a liar," she said softly, but firmly.

His head jerked upward and met her gaze. "What?"

"Maybe it makes it easier for you to believe it was all an act, it makes it easier for you to push me away, but I know better. Those things I saw in you were real. Any moments we may have shared were real." She took a deep breath, allowing the air to completely fill her lungs, and then slowly let it out. "And what you felt for me, what you still feel for me, is real."

Patrick looked at her for a long moment before letting out a breath of his own. "Believe what you want."

Robin nodded, making sure to keep her eyes focused on his. "I will. And I won't stop believing in you. No matter what you say or do."

She then bowed her head and turned to walk away. Patrick's eyes followed her figure until she disappeared. He then raised his eyes to the sky.

Robin leaned up against the wall of the warehouse and squeezed her eyes shut, as tears began to sting her eyelids. She'd realized something as those final words had fallen out of her mouth.

No matter what she had said in the past day, she would never give up on him.

She had loved twice in her relatively short life. Her first love had been stolen away from her due to circumstances beyond her control. Her second love had slipped through her fingers as a consequence of her actions.

Some people never experience love once, never mind twice. And here she was with a third chance. Everything inside of her said this could be the true, lasting one.

So how could she just let it pass her by? How could she just let him go?

The answer was as clear as the night's sky. She couldn't. She wouldn't.

She was done pretending she was better off without Patrick Drake. And, soon, he would realize he wasn't better off without her either.

No charade can last forever.

--------------------------------------THE END---------------------------------------------------
Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it and please let me know what you thought. -Steph